‘Kul kul chimachi’ — The story of carrying on by Tiana Koehrer

10.06.21 SHARE

‘Kul kul chimachi’ — The story of carrying on by Tiana Koehrer

Koorie Youth Council

Earlier this week on a day like any other, I went to visit my nan and pop and share some danish pastries and croissants (for necessary caregiving responsibilities #COVIDSafe). My nan and pop truly are my best friends, and we often share stories (over assorted pastries more often than not) with each other.

My nan is [Aunty] Zeta Thomson, Yorta Yorta, Wurundjeri and Wiradjuri woman and my pop is [Uncle] Eddie Thomson, who migrated to Australia from Belfast and happens to be my nans #1 fan, vice-versa of course.

With their incredible plethora of life experience, we yarn on anything and everything, from my nans’ work advocating for Aboriginal justice, to stories of old Irish tales, to what’s the latest plot on ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’. My drive, passion and motivation come from my grandparents.

A younger woman with her arm around an older woman. They are seated at a table and there is another table in the background.

Tiana and her nan when she was inducted into the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll in 2019.

On this occasion I had a tune in my head of a song I’d known as long as I can remember, and so I asked nan to tell me the story of ‘Kul kul chaimachi’.

I didn’t necessarily know where this song came from, what the lyrics meant or what occasion to sing it, I just knew that I had sung it at every stage of my life with my cousins, at family get-togethers, and whenever nan tells me to!

The story goes like this…

“Mum (great-grandmother [Aunty] Geraldine Briggs) said when we’d all be travelling along the roads and moving camps in the ‘old days’, because we would have to move to warmer weather for fruit picking, food or whatever, all the kids would be walking along the road and getting sick of it. Mum said that all the ‘old fullas’ and grown-ups would say ‘not far now’ and ‘look up here look’ to keep all the young ones carrying on.


Then they’d start singing:


Kul kul chimachi kul kul chima,

Kul kul chimachi kul kul chima,

Kul kul chimachi kul kul chima,

Didjima bul bul dhima,

Oi, oi, oi”


Nan then went on to explain that whilst there is no direct translation for this song from Yorta-Yorta to English, the song essentially means ‘come on now, not too far to go’ and would be sung throughout the masses of mob to pass the time, gain motivation to continue walking and keep spirits high.

“This song was sung through many generations, passed on to mum and nanny Teresa (great-great grandmother [Aunty] Teresa Clements)”.

“It’s a short song and a short story” she said as she giggled.

I was startled as I expected a long-winded story, however quickly smiled when I realised that this song had been in our family for generations and will continue to be for generations to come.

“Yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same thing, what affected us yesterday, affects us today and will still affect us tomorrow” said nan, and after hearing this story I know that going forward when I feel in a rut, find myself dragging to the finish or feeling down, I will sing ‘Kul kul chimachi’, remember my ancestors and remember “come on now, not too far to go”.